Chainsaw Chain Direction – Ensure Correct Blade Rotation

Last Updated on January 18, 2023 by Grow with Bovees

Getting the chainsaw chain direction right when replacing the chain is very important!

If you get it wrong, not only will the saw perform poorly but it is actually very dangerous to have the chainsaw teeth pointing the wrong way.

In our chainsaw experience, many accidents are caused simply because of a poorly fitted chain going in the wrong direction.

But how do you make sure you’ve installed a chainsaw chain correctly?

For newbie chainsaw users it can be very confusing and even if you’re a regular user, it’s easy to forget sometimes, so we have decided to create this comprehensive guide that will answer all your questions about making sure you have the chainsaw teeth direction the right way round.

Easy Ways to Check if Your Chainsaw Chain Direction is Correct

1. Viewing The Chain Saw Chain From the Top

If you place your chainsaw upright on the ground or on a table and look down from the top view, you will notice that the drive links have different blades or teeth.

These blades have two edges, one of which is dull and the other being sharp.

A chainsaw blade always rotates in the same direction, regardless of the chainsaw brand, model, or type, running out from the motor at the top and back towards it along the bottom.

You need to make sure the sharp edges of the chain-link are always facing in the correct direction, going away from the main chainsaw body or motor when viewed from the top.

2. Checking Chainsaw Chain Direction From the Front or Side

Looking at the chainsaw blade from the side, with the engine body on the left and the blade tip on the right-hand side, the chain will be moving in a clockwise direction from left to right along the top and right to left along the bottom.

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Check the S-shaped teeth to make sure that the sharp cutting edge of the blade is facing the blade nose on the right along the top and back towards the main body along the bottom, otherwise, it’s going in the wrong direction.

From the front view, the chain direction will be moving from the top to the bottom, so again, you can check the teeth are facing the right way here and that you don’t have a backwards chain.

3. Chainsaw Chain Bottom View

Obviously, if you turn the machine over and look at it from the bottom, the correct chainsaw chain direction will be opposite to the top view.

If you’ve replaced the chain correctly, then the sharp edge of the cutting tooth on each link will be facing or moving towards the chainsaw engine or body.

Fitting a Chainsaw Blade so it Runs in the Right Direction

● Make sure To Have The Correct Replacement Chain

Replacing a chain on your power saw is fairly straightforward and when you have completed it a few times it will become much easier. Before fitting, always make sure that your new chain has the correct drive link count and size for your chainsaw model and bar length.

Check the manufacturer’s manual for chainsaw bar measurements if you’re unsure.

It’s always best to follow the instructions in the manual for your particular machine when fitting a new chain, but here are the basic practical steps you will need to follow for every type of saw.

● Remove the Clutch Cover

The first step will be removing the clutch cover so that you can get to the guide bar and gears.

Undo the bolts holding on the cover with a scrench but do not remove them completely and then loosen the chain tightening screw to relieve the tension.

Once you’ve done this you can take the bolts out completely and remove the cover to expose the guide bar, gears, clutch and chain.

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Remove the guide bar and chain and clean out any debris, grease and old chain oil from the clutch area, oiler holes and bar groove.

● Replace and Check the Chainsaw Blade Direction

Now is the time to fit your new chain onto the guide bar and the crucial step of making sure it goes round in the proper chainsaw direction.

Remember that the sharp edge of the S-shaped blade needs to be facing away from the saw body along the top of the guide bar so make sure to fit the chain so that it goes in the right direction for proper chainsaw operation.

Pay close attention to this whilst fitting the chain and then reassemble the saw making sure the chain sits right on top of the drive sprocket when fitting the bar.

● Tighten the Blade

Since you have fitted a new chain, reinstalled the blade and put the clutch cover back on, the next step is to tension the chain before tightening everything up.

First of all, lift the chain saw slightly by the nose of the bar and look to see if the chain is hanging off along the bottom. If it is, turn the tightening screw with a screwdriver or the suitable part of the scrench until you can no longer see any light between the chain and the bottom of the bar.

At this stage, it’s important to make sure the chain is neither too tight nor too loose and the easiest way to do this is to lift the chain along the top of the bar.

If the chain tension is just right, it should pull away from the edge of the bar by about 1/2 inch and snap back into the groove when you let go.

Adjust the tension until you judge it to be just right and then tighten up the bolts that hold the clutch cover and chain bar in place.

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Does Chainsaw Chain Direction Matter?

The cutting teeth on a power saw chain are designed to remove wood in one direction only. By mounting the chain in the wrong direction you will not be able to do much cutting, but just generate a lot of smoke instead.

Installing the chain in reverse can also cause other problems, such as:

  • Damaging or breaking the chainsaw chain links resulting in serious injury to the chainsaw user.
  • Damaging the guide bar through putting excessive pressure on it as you use your body weight to try and get it to cut through the wood.
  • Burnout or damage to the clutch due to the increased resistance of the blunt edge of the chain link teeth digging into the log.  
  • Using excessive amounts of chainsaw bar oil.

Final Thoughts on the Correct Chainsaw Blade Direction

By now you should know enough to make sure you have your chainsaw chain running in the proper direction for the best chainsaw experience, and how dangerous it can be if you get the chainsaw blade direction wrong.

As a reminder, the easiest way to check the blade direction is to put it down with the body on the left and the bar on the right and ensure the cutting edges of the blades are facing the nose of the bar along the top as the blade rotates in a clockwise direction.

Chainsaw chains work best when they’re tensioned correctly, kept sharp and well oiled and of course, fitted the right way round!

Chainsaw accidents can happen regardless of the operator’s experience and type of chainsaw being used, so always follow manufacturer guidelines and chain replacement steps when using and maintaining your equipment.

Hopefully, you now know how to ensure that you have your chainsaw chain direction running the right way!